In snowbound Ladakh, IAF plays vital role in fight against COVID-19

It has also set up a 24x7 crisis management cell at Air Headquarters and various Command Headquarters to monitor the prevailing situation

In snowbound Ladakh, IAF plays vital role in fight against COVID-19

Supplies being loaded on to an IAF AN-32 aircraft. Photo courtesy IAF

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26

The Indian Air Force is playing a critical part in the fight against coronavirus in Ladakh that remains cut-off from the rest of the nation due to snow bound passes in the Himalayas.

IAF aircraft are constantly ferrying in doctors as well as medical supplies and emergency equipment to Leh and flying out blood samples for COVID testing to Chandigarh and Delhi. Ladakh has reported several positive cases, including an armyman.

Chandigarh is the largest transport base of the IAF that houses IL-76 heavylift aircraft, AN-32 tactical aircraft and the newly acquired Chinook heavy lift helicopters. In addition, detachments of the C-17 heavylift and the C-130 medium lift aircraft also operate to Leh and Thoise from this base.

The land link to Leh from the Srinagar and Manali axis remains cut-off during winters due to heavy snow. In winters, provisioning of essential supplies to the northern sector and rotation of troops depends on the IAF.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) had planned to open the Zoji La pass on the Srinagar link by end of this month, but the work is still on. On the Manali link, there are five high passes to re-open. While the reopening work generally begins in April-May, this year BRO begin the works in March for the first time.

The IAF has also set up a 24x7 crisis management cell at Air Headquarters and various Command Headquarters to monitor the prevailing situation and provide immediate response and assistance as required.

 The Command Hospital, Air Force, Bangalore(CHAFB) has been designated as the first laboratory in the IAF to undertake coronavirus testing which will greatly enhance the ability to carry out quick testing of suspected cases and allow prompt and timely intervention where required.

The IAF has also recently issued fresh operating procedures on the use of transport aircraft and helicopters by defence personnel as well as civilians in the present environment so as to mitigate the spread of the virus. It has created nine quarantine facilities with the capacity to accommodate 200-300 persons each at nodal IAF bases across the country. Every station also has a quarantine center with a capacity for 50-60 persons, which can further be expanded.

 

 

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